Tag Archives: Family Road Trip

Fishing With Ivan Part 4B

24 Mar

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Heading west out of the desert, everything was fine until, our car transmission overheated in the mountains (7000’).  We were on our way to visit our high school friends Jim & Charlene in Flagstaff, AZ.  The fluid had boiled over, out of the dip-stick tube, onto the exhaust; causing a huge cloud of smoke (we were lucky it didn’t start a fire).  

I was afraid we had burned up the engine, but after we stopped to let things cool down, I was able to added more transmission fluid, and we were able to continue on our way with no further problems.  Whoo!  That was a close one!

Photo Credit: AGCO AUTOMOTIVE https://images.app.goo.gl/ZbvKryuWzDBYhVTr8

I had met Jim at a motorcycle club while in high school, and had run into him in Japan during my tour of duty with the U.S. Navy.  DiVoran had become friends with Charlene at Cosmetology School, while I was in the Navy.  They are still good friends, and they write to each other all these years later.  Jim and Charlene enjoyed meeting our kids, and gave us a grand tour of the sights of Flagstaff.  I remember when we got ready to leave the next morning; we had a flat on the station wagon.  Their sloping driveway made it very difficult to unhook the camper without it getting away from us.  Then we had to unload the back of the station wagon to get to the spare time.  Boy was I glad to have Jim there to help me.  What a hassle that was!

Photo Credit Bill Lites

After leaving Flagstaff, we were able to show the kids the ancient Indian cliff dwellings (1150-1600) in the Bandelier National Monument.  At the time, we were allowed to climb ladders, provided by the park service, to inspect some of the dwellings.  That was an interesting experience for all of us.  We were all impressed with the design and quantity of the different types of dwellings there were, and how they had survived for so long.  I’m sure the park service doesn’t allow people to climb all over the dwellings these days.

Photo Credit DiVoran Lites

Our family will never forget the night we spent in Needles, CA.  We had stopped at an RV park for the night, before starting the trek across the Mohave Desert the next day.  It was really hot, and by the time we got the camper set-up, we were all ready for a swim in their pool to cool off.  About the time we got the dinner dishes cleaned up we noticed the wind was picking up.  At first we didn’t mind a little breeze to help cool things down.  But the wind kept getting stronger and was starting to kick up some dust.

We finally moved into the camper and closed all the windows and the door, to get some protection from the wind and dust.  It was like an oven in the camper with everything closed up (NO A/C), but that was about all we could do.  Then we heard a loud roaring sound and the top of the camper started rocking back and forth.  That only lasted a very few minutes, but it was a really scary few minutes.  Then it was all over, and things calmed down.  We learned later that a very large ‘Dust Devil’ had passed thru the area.  The rest of the night was hot and humid, with no wind, and it was a fretful night for all of us.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Fishing With Ivan Part 4 A

17 Mar

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

In the summer of 1974, I was between jobs and DiVoran and I decided it would be a good time to take our family on an all-inclusive six-week “Cross-Country Camping Trip.”  We wanted to show our children some of the beautiful and unusual places in our amazing country, and visit friends and relatives along the way.  The first couple of parts of this abbreviated trip description are only a prelude to another fishing trip with Ivan.  So please be patient with me and enjoy the ride.

As part of the preparations for this trip I made a small table, to fit in the back area of our 1968 Ford LTD station wagon, where the kids could play games and read, or anything else, to help keep them from getting bored.  We packed up our vintage pop-up tent camper, with all the things we thought we would need for the car and the camper (I am always forgetting something) and we headed west.

We visited the old ‘Lites Homestead’ in Many, LA where my dad and his twelve siblings were born and raised.  The original house was empty and locked up, but we were able to tell the kids about what it was like living in a 1850s house.  We showed them the rain water cistern, the drinking water well, the chicken coop, and the barn (with hay loft) where I played with some of my cousins in my younger years.  The small cemetery at the Mount Zion Baptist Church, located just north of Many is full of my ‘Lites’ relatives.

Continuing west, we stopped in Dallas, TX long enough to drive by the house I lived in for the first six years of my life.  The house doesn’t look anything like it did when I lived there.  We also took a drive  downtown to show them the First Baptist Church, where I was registered in their Cradle Roll Department at six-weeks of age.

Next we visited my mother, Aunt Jessie & Granny in Albuquerque, NM where I grew up and where I met DiVoran, the love of my life.  They were thrilled to see us and wanted to know all about our camping trip.  We enjoyed taking the kids all around town, showing them where DiVoran and I had gone to school, worked, and played during our teenage years.  Of course, we had to take them to dinner at our favorite Mexican food restaurant, La Placita, located in Old Down Town Albuquerque (founded 1706).  Yummm! 

After that family reunion, we took a tour of the breath-taking Carlsbad Caverns located just west of Hobbs, NM.  I was particularly impressed with the way they had rigged up muted hammers, on some of the various sized stalagmites, which could be activated by electronics, and played from a keyboard like an organ.  We stayed long enough at the caverns to watch the evening exit of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats from the depths of the caverns that darkened the sky.

We stopped to investigate the unusual formations at the Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona.  It’s amazing to me how the trees in this forest became petrified (225 million years old) instead of rotting away as most dead trees do.  Many of the petrified logs had spectacularly different color arrangements.   DiVoran’s mom and dad were ‘rock hounds’ and we bought a few small samples, at the curios shop, for them to do their lapidary magic on.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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